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FOR APRIL, 1811.
OF THE CONSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN.
[2d. Ed. 1748.]
It is pleasant to observe a set of influence; which is not setting up writers charging others with form: a new form of government, but pre. ing Republican schemes, when they serving the old. themselves are the persons, who in Our constitution may, in some effect, and by the necessary conses sense, be said to be a fleeting thing, quence of their way of reasoning, which at different times hath differhave been placing our excellent con- ed from itself, as men differ from.. stitution in a most ridiculous and themselves in age and youth, or in contemptible light. According to sickness and health ; but still it is them, it is no better than a jumble the same, and it is our duty to pred of incompatible powers, which would serve it as far as we are able, in its separate and fall to pieces of them. full strength and vigour. I do not selves, unless restrained and upheld know a more useful turn of mind, by such honourable methods as those and what will contribute more to of bribery and corruption ; for how this end, than that, which disposeth 13 it possible for any man, under any us to observe the several changes in other notion, to plead for the ne- our constitution; the causes, which cessity, or for the fitness of places have produced them; and the conand pensions, or any pecuniary in sequences attending them. I do not Huence among the members of the pretend, for my part, to enter far house of Commons ? If any depen. into this subject; but will only offer dance or bias created by such mo- some few observations on what hath tives, were really necessary, it would happened of that kind, during the prove that the form of our govern- reign of King William and Queen ment itself was defective to a degree Anne, and I leave it to other pens of ridiculousness; that it was a con- to remark farther back, or to constitution, having a representative of tinué such remarks farther on. the people, which must be engaged - At the time of the Revolution; not to represent them; nor to vote our constitution reccived a considerand act, as they would vote and act, able strength by that act, which is if uninfluenced by private interest; called the Declaration of Rights; hy or corrupt motives. Now, if such which, we hope, an end is put to an influence, or dependance, was the dangerous claims and practices universal and unlimited throughout of some former reigns; such as that the whole house, the monarchy would of a power in the crown tu dispense be absolute, and whenever this in- with the execution of the laws, as also fluence prevails in any degree, it that of keeping up a standing army tends to arbitrary power. For this in time of peace without consent of reason the true friends of liberty parliament, and some other parti. must perpetually guard against such culars, which are fontained in that
act. I do not reckon that we ob- 'one, to prevent double and false retained any thing new by it; any thing turns, another to preyent bribery ; that was not our just right before; 1 another to prohibit commissioners in nor does it provide such remedies the excise sitting in the house ; and for us, or such penalties for the of." by a clause in an act of the 12th of fenders against it, as might have his reign, which in the Act of Settlebeen contriveel; yet it is an advan.” ment, it was provided that after his tage to have that expressly declared decease, and the decease of the then and acknowledged to be our right, Princess Anne, no person, who had which had once been brought, how any office or place of profit, under the unjustly soever, into dispute. King, or received any pension from
About five or six years after this, the croun, should be capable of servwe obtained ihe Triennial act; which ing us a member of the house of Comwas an additional security to our mons. The passing those laws was liberties ; for though it may seem, certainly giving strength and secu. from the reason of things and an rity to our liberties, in the most tient usage, that parliaments ought important and essential article; for to have been either annual, or to the freedom and independency of this continue no longer than till the par, assembly is undeniably the support ticular business, for which they of them all, and upon which the were summioned, was finished, yet fabric of our whole constitution deby the precedents made of the long pends. The members of this house continuance of the same parliament, are the trustees and guardians of all in the reigns of Charles the first and we have, and of all our posterity. second, it was become fit and requi- I will add one instance more of site to enact, by an express law, the advantage, accruing to the cause that there should be a new one, at of liberty, under the reign of that least, once in three years. It may, glorious, deliverer of our country. perhaps, be wondered that this was What I mean is, his complying with not taken care of in the Declaration the desire of his people and parlia. of Rights ; for though it is declared ment, in reducing the number of the that parliaments ought to be held fre- standing forces in England to about quently ; (by which might not im. 7000 men. Thus we see that as, properly be understood new parlia. by the coming in of King William, ments) yet in a matter of such im- our religion and liberties were preportance, one might have expected served from the designs and projects more clear and positive expressions. then on, foot to destroy both; so, by The only reason I can assign for this his succeeding reign, he farther is, that that declaration was chiefly strengthened and secured them to intended to assert and assure to us us by good laws, I cannot help those rights, which had been inva. thinking, that whenever it shall be ded by King James.. Now, that of thought proper to set up an eque holding the same parliament for a trian statue to the memory of that long term was no part of the com- Prince, an inscription ought to be plaints against his government; since engraven on the pedestal in these, during his short reign he called but or such like words :-To the immor. one parliament, and that he dissolv; tal Memory of King WILLIAM the ed abruptly at their second sessions. Third, who by a hazardous and glo
. But I proceed to mention those rious enterprize preserved ihe British other acts, which King Williain Nation from the imminent Danger of passed, for securing to us free par, Popery and Slavery; and afterwards liaments, and consequently our come with more Glory, as securing us for stitution and liberties. There was the future is doing a far greater good
than only once preventing a present the utmost extremity, the same thing tlanger, he confirmed and strengthened as leaving the people at liberty to its liberties by such excellent Laws as redress themselves, when they are the TRIENNIAL Act, and that of grievously oppressed, and thereby the 12th of his Reign, entitled an oblige the 'Prince, in some measure, Act for the FARTHEL LIMITATION to depend on their affections ? of the Crown, and better securing But to return from whence I have THE RIGHTS and LIBERTIES of the digressed, and pass to the next reign. Subject."
In that of Queen Anne a very ex* It can be no objection against pensive war against France involved setting up such a memorial of those the nation in a heavy debt, (which laws, that the first of them is re- I hope will be a warning to us from pealed, and that the clause above- engaging hastily in another) and ocmentioned in the other is repealed casioned the granting several duties likewise'; for though in deference to and taxes, which are received by the wisdoin of the legislature, we the crown, and charged as funds to suppose that the repeal was for good pay interest on several great sums. reasons, with regard to the time, in that have been borrowed. This cirwhich they were repealed; yet ve cumstance is certainly of no advanmay afirm that the enacting of them, tage to the cause of liberty, as it at the time they were enacted, was makes the crown the immediate for good reasons too, and such as steward and receiver of the annual arise from a consideration of the na- income of near fifty millions of the ture of government, the principles pcople's property ; besides increasing of liberty, and precedents in free its influence and weight by the vast states.
number of officers, employed in col. I was induced to mention these Jecting, overseeing and paying these things at present, because some per- funds and revenues. I must farther sons are often calling upon and de- add, that there was a clause in an fying people to instance any one ar- act of parliament repealed in this ticle of liberty, or security for liberty, reign, which till then had been higli. which we once had, and do not still ly valued, as what would tend very hold and enjoy. I desire leave to much to the security of our liberties. ask them, whether long parliaments I mean that clause of the 12th of are the same thing as having fre- King William above-mentioned, by quent elections? Is thecircumstance virtuc of which, after the decease of having almost two hundred mem- of the Queen, no person having any bers of the house of Commons vested place could sit in the house of Comwith offices or places, under the mons. I mention this without any crown, the same thing as having a design to cast the least reflection on * law, that would have excluded all that excellent princess, who passed persons, who hold places, from sit- many good laws for the security or ting there is an army of above liberty, as will appear from what i 27,000 men, at the expence of am going to mention ; for by the 850,000l. per ann, for the service same act, in which that clause was of Great Britain, the same thing as repealed, there was another inserted an army of 7000 men, at the ex- by which all persons, holding the pence of 350,000l. per ann. for Eng- several offices therein specified, were land; and I will suppose there might incapacitated from sitting in the house be about souo men more for Scot- of Commons ; as well as all persons. land ? --Is the riot-act, which esta.. holding any new places, created.since blishes passive-obedience and non-re- 1705. By the same act all persons. sistance by a law, even in cases of wlio, after their election into parlia:
ment, shall accept any office of profit Is it not of a hundred times more whatsoever under the croan, (except consequence to prevent such eva, in the army or navy) are declared sions than any litile frauds in the incapable of sitting in the house, customs? If the laws formerly conunless re-elected. In consenting to trived, for securing to us free par. these clauses, her Majesty gave us liaments and frequent elections, have immediate possession of the benefit been repealed; it is natural to de of them ; whereas that of the 12th sire that a proper opportunity may of King William, though it was offer itself for recovering what we more extensive, yet was not to take once enjoyed by express law, as well place till a tiine remote, and so was as by the nature of our constitution. repealed before it came in force, In And farther, if the public debts are the fifth year of her reign, she passed such an incumbrance and embarrass. the qualification-act, which requires ment to us, that we could not en. that every member for a borough gage with vigour in a war, even upshall have 300l. per annum, and for on our own account, and for our own a county 6001. per annum ; a law, immediate interests, if occasion rcwhich was intended to confine the quired, or if they are so circumelection to such persons as are inde- stanced, that they may render our pendent in their circumstances ; have liberties less secure; what can be a valuable stake in the land ; and more fit and reasonable than to make must therefore be the most strongly use of the means we have in our engaged to consult the public good, hands to lessen these debts, by maand least liable to corruption. This naging the national expence with law has been of great service to us, all possible frugality, and shunning and is so still; though far from be- all occasions of increasing them? ing effeetual, but it would be in a Sure, no good ally can expect that great measure needless, if we were we should act for his interest, with Once made secure against bribery at less caution than we use for our elections and corruption after elec- own; or that we should be more tions ; because the pcople, when left quick in making reprisals upon the to themselves, would naturally chuse aggressors against him, than we are the chief and best sort of the gentry upon those against ourselves! to represent them.
If the ministerial advocates would But I propose, as I said before, be thought to have any sense of Lito pursue these kind of remarks no berty or Revolution principles left farther than those two reigns. I unextinguished in their breasts, let will only add, that if any part of them come fairly to these points, these good laws, which still subsist, without sophistry, or prevarication : and were formed for the preservation but if, instead of this, they are re, of the freedom of parliaments, have solved to drudge on in their old not their due force, by reason of road of calling Jacobite and Republisome concealed evasions, which in can, they must expect to continue length of time may have been found in the same contempt “they are at out; what can be more reasonable present, and only make their patrons iban to apply an effectual remedy? ridiculous, as well as themselves.
LOCKE ON GOVERNMENT.
(Continued from page 89.)
[CHAPTER VI. contains an answer to of itself hereditary, so it was alienable by Sir R. Filmer's arguments for Adam's ti. patent, and seixable by an usurper, Obtle to Sovereignty by Fatherhood; and servations, 190. So then here inheriCHAP. VII. to similar arguments Of tánce, grant, or usurpation, will convey Fatherhood and Property considered to it. And last of all, which is most admigether as Fountains of Sovereignty: but rable, be tells us, p. 100. It skills not as the absurd opinions of Sir Robert on whick way kings come by their power, these points bave been long exploded, whether by election, donation, succession, and are now, indeed, forgotten, it is need or by any other meuns; for it is still the less to repeat their refutation. In the fol. manner of the govcrnment by supreme, lowing chapter they are justly ridiculed.] power thrt makes them properly kings, CHAPTER VIII.
and not the means of obtaining their Of the Conveyance of Adam's Sovereign crowns. Which I think is a full answer' Monarchical Power.
to all his whole hypothesis and discourse 78. Sir Robert, not having been very about Adarr's royal authority, as the happy in any proof he brings for the fountain from which all princes are to sovereignty of Adam, is not inuch more derive cheirs: and he might have spared fortunate in conveying it to future the trouble of speaking so much as be princes, who, if his politics be true, must does, up and down, of heirs and inherie, all derive their titles froin that first mo- tance, if to make one properly a king, Darch The ways he has assigned, as needz no more but governing by supreme they lie scattered up and down in his power, and it mutters not by what means writings, I will set down in his own he came by it. words: in his preface he tells us, That 79. By this notable way, our author Adam being monarch of the whole world, may make Oliver as properly king, as none of his posterity had uny right to any one else he could think of: and had possess any thing, but by his grant or pere he had the happiness to live under Mas. msssion, or by succession from him. Here suniello's governinent, he could not have he makes two ways of conveyance of any by his own rule have forborne to have thing Adam stood possessed of; and done homage to him, with O'king lide those are grants or succession. Again for ever, since the manner of his govern he says, All kings either ure, or are to ment by supreme power, made him pro be reputed, the next heirs to those first perly king, who was but the day before progenitors, who were at first the natue properly a fisherman. And if Don ral purents of the whole people, p. 19. Quirote had taught his squire to govern There cannot be any multitude of men with supreme authority, our author no whatsocver, but that in it, considered by doubt could have made a most loyal itself, there is one mun amongst them, subject in Sancho Puncha's island; and that in nature hath a right to be the king be must needs have deserved some preof all the rest, as being the nort heir to ferment in such governments, since I Adam. Observations, 253. Here in these think he is the first politician, who, preplaces inheritance is the only way he al tending to settle government upon its lows of conveying monarchical power to true basis, and to establish the thrones princes. In other places he tells us, of lawful princes, ever told the world, Observations, 155. All power on earth that he was properly a king, whose manis either derived or usurped from the fa. ner of government was by supreme power, therly power, Observations, 158. All by what means soever he obtained it; kings that now are, or ever were, are which in plain English is to say, that reor were either fathers of their people, or gal and suprenie power is properly and heirs of such futhers, or usurpers of the truly his, who can by any means seize right of such fathers, Observations, 233, upon it; and if this be to be properly a And bere he makes inheritance or usur- king, I wonder how he came to think of, pution the only ways whereby kings or where he will find, an usurper. come by this original power : but yet be 80. This is so strange a doctrine, that tells us, This fatherly empire, as it was the surprise of it hath made me pass by